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“Jeb Bush Suffers From Foot In Mitt Disease”: As Simple As That, The Beleaguered American Middle-Class Proles Are Slackers

Jeb Bush ought to be running away with the Republican nomination. He isn’t, and his persona as a national candidate looks increasingly — how shall I put this? — Romneyesque.

Bush is supposed to be the safe, establishment-approved choice, which is where the Republican Party usually turns. He and his allied super PAC have raised a phenomenal $114 million thus far. The hot mess that is Donald Trump ought to be sending GOP primary voters toward Bush’s column in droves. But the scion-in-waiting hasn’t yet consolidated the establishment’s support.

Instead, Bush made news for announcing an economic strategy that sounded straight from the Mitt Romney playbook. He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that “people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”

Simple as that, beleaguered American middle-class proles. You’re slacking.

The echo of Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark was unmistakable. Bush seemed to blame those struggling in these unsettled economic times for their own predicament. Coming from a man who was born into great wealth and privilege, it was tone-deaf to say the least.

Politically, Bush’s pronouncement was the equivalent of a hanging curveball over the fat part of the plate. Hillary Clinton couldn’t have missed it if she tried.

“Well, he must not have met very many American workers,” the likely Democratic nominee said Monday in a speech outlining her economic policy. “Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day, or the teacher who is in that classroom, or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast-food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture. They need a raise.”

Bush’s supporters claimed that what the candidate meant to say had to do with the millions of men and women who would like to have full-time jobs but are settling for part-time work — and also the millions who have dropped out of the workforce altogether. But why, then, didn’t he speak of the need to create better jobs for the underemployed? Why did he approach the problem from the opposite angle by blaming the workers for their plight?

There are two possible explanations. One is that Bush, like his father and brother, clearly has a troubled relationship with proper syntax. He may never match George Bush the Younger’s classic mangling of the language — he once said “you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda” — but Jeb appears to have the potential, at least, to match George Bush the Elder for linguistic pratfalls.

When he was reacting to Trump’s anti-Mexican screeds, Bush tried to warn that the Republican Party could not succeed by appearing to be angry and negative all the time rather than sunny and positive. But he couldn’t find some elusive synonym for anger and instead went “grr,” thus creating one of the campaign’s most entertaining sound bites to date.

So maybe the “work longer hours” line was simply the kind of clumsy misstatement that Bush’s aides will spend a lot of time and effort cleaning up in the coming months. But maybe — and this is the other explanation for the remarks — it’s what he really believes.

If any Republican is going to win the White House, I’m confident it won’t be by scolding the middle class for its shortcomings. It is clear that Americans have no problem electing wealthy candidates. But in the 2012 campaign, Romney inadvertently helped define himself, accurately or not, as a rich man who held the less fortunate in contempt. People don’t like that so much.

With Trump (speaking of contemptuous rich men) now drawing the support of up to 13 percent of Republicans in recent polls, you would think the saner factions of the party would be coalescing around an alternative. But they’re still shopping. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who formally entered the race Monday, is about to have his day in the sun. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is still polling well. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Texas governor Rick Perry and political neophyte Carly Fiorina all have significant establishment support.

All this suggests to me that the GOP mainstream, determined to avoid Romney Redux, hasn’t made up its mind yet about Bush. As his brother once said, “Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again!”

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 13, 2015

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Jeb Bush, Middle Class, Working Class | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Historical Trends Could Hardly Be Clearer”: Strong February Job Numbers Underline Obama’s Performance — And GOP Failure

When Republicans complain about economic policy under President Obama – and especially job growth, as  Jeb Bush does almost every day – someone might inquire how they think he compares with the last couple of presidents from their party (both of whom happened to bear the surname Bush). Underlined by February’s data released today, Obama’s record is outstanding and continues to smash the idiotic economic predictions promoted by Republicans (and their Fox News echoes) about the stimulus, the deficit, the Affordable Care Act, the auto bailout, the federal budget, and nearly every policy of this administration.

Perhaps someday a television personality on a Sunday chat show will muster the tiny amount of courage needed to pose the question to a guest like Jeb: Why do Democratic administrations result in so many more jobs than Republican administrations? This bold interrogation wouldn’t require much research effort. Helpful information that contrasts the success of recent Democratic presidents — and the abject failure of the GOP presidents who preceded them — may easily be found here, for instance (h/t Eclectablog and our friend @LOLGOP). And many other places, too.

The short version is that under Barack Obama (6.7 million so far) and Bill Clinton (22.6 million), we saw the creation of nearly 30 million net jobs; under George H.W. Bush (2.6 million) and George W. Bush (1.3 million), just short of 4 million net jobs. Even if you award Bush 41 another couple of million jobs for the second term he never won, the essential point should not be lost on even the dimmest voter.

Overall, the historical trends could hardly be clearer. Even Democratic presidents who aren’t named Clinton or Obama tend to score far better than their Republican counterparts, whether named Bush or otherwise – and the consequences can be devastating.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog; The National Memo, March 6, 2015

March 9, 2015 Posted by | Economic Policy, Jeb Bush, Jobs | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Against Putin, Obama Gets The Last Laugh”: Where Did All The Republicans Go Who Heralded Putin As A Strategic Mastermind?

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama didn’t name names, but he reminded some of his critics in the Republican Party that their praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin was sadly mistaken.

“Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, as we were reinforcing our presence with frontline states, Mr. Putin’s aggression it was suggested was ‘a masterful display’ of ‘strategy and strength.’ That’s what I heard from some folks,” Obama said. “Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”

Obama had reason to feel good – and take a not-so-subtle dig at Putin’s GOP fans. Not only is the American recovery gaining strength, but as Matt O’Brien explained yesterday, Russia’s credit rating was downgraded this week to “junk” status.

[I]f Russia is rated junk, then its companies will be too – which will increase the borrowing costs on their existing debt. It could also trigger earlier bond repayments, which, together with the higher interest rates, could, according to one official, cost them as much as $20 to $30 billion.

And that’s $20 to $30 billion it really can’t afford. Russia, as I’ve said before, doesn’t have an economy so much as an oil-exporting business that subsidizes everything else. But it can’t subsidize much when prices are only $50-a-barrel.

The confluence of economic events unfolding in Russia is amazing: cheap gas, banks in need of a bailout, crashing currency, high interest rates, and an inability to repay debts, all against the backdrop of additional sanctions.

There’s no reason conditions are going to improve in Russia anytime soon and Putin doesn’t know what to do next.

With these developments in mind, I’m curious: where did all the Republicans go who heralded Putin as a strategic mastermind? Where are the Fox News personalities who liked the idea of Putin leading the United States?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 28, 2015

 

They seem to have fallen quietly lately. Maybe someone should ask them whether they stand by their previous gushing over the Russian autocrat.

January 29, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Russia, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Has Been Wrong For The Past Six Years”: Mitch McConnell’s “No Compromise” Strategy Is Finally Failing

In his seventh State of the Union on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama touted the low unemployment rate, low gas prices, increase in clean energy production, lower teen pregnancy rates and host of other statistics that supported his optimistic vision. “The shadow of crisis has passed,” he said. “And the state of the union is strong.”

Giving the official Tea Party response to Obama’s address, Representative Curt Clawson painted a very different picture of the state of America. “In 2014, our economy continued sluggish growth and millions of Americans are still out of work,” he said. “We know them. We see them.” This message was echoed in every other Republican response to Obama’s speechfive in all.

These dual visions of America have been competing since the midterms, when Republicans trounced Democrats in races across the country. But every day, since then it’s become increasingly clear that Obama’s message is a much more accurate depiction of the United States than what Republicans are offeringand the GOP message will likely look more ridiculous as the 2016 presidential election approaches.

Take the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have been arguing for years that Obamacare would cripple the health care system and destroy the economy. Clawson repeated those claims in his response. “We also need to lift the economic shackles of Obamacare,” he said. “It makes us uncompetitive.” These are ridiculous arguments. The odds that Obamacare would cause a death spiral in the insurance industry, for instance, were always exaggerated. But the topline metrics now show that Obamacare is working. Millions more people now have insurance. Health care cost growth has slowed, although it’s unclear how much of that is due to the health care law. Insurers aren’t fleeing the exchanges and premiums aren’t skyrocketing. All of the fatal scenarios that the GOP predicted aren’t happening. It’s possible those trends will change dramatically in the years to come, but right now, there are no signs of that.

Or take the economy. Remember threats that Obamanomics would strangle the recovery? That hasn’t played out either. The unemployment rate is down to 5.6 percent. Growth is strong. Obama can’t take all the credit for the recovery. The Federal Reserve’s willingness to ignore inflation hawks and keep interest rates at zero is a key reason why the U.S.’s recovery is the envy of the developed world, for instance. But the fact is that the economy really has strengthened considerably over the past year. Republican arguments that Obama’s policies would stifle growth and prevent the economy from bouncing back no longer are credible.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren points out, the recovery has not been felt equallywages are still stagnant. Obama made that point in his address. Yet, lower gas prices, even though they aren’t due to Obama’s actions, are effectively acting as a tax cut for middle class Americans across the country. In turn, optimism in the economy has ticked up considerably over the past two monthsand so have Obama’s approval ratings. Americans are starting to believe in the recoveryand to give Obama credit for it.

Republican talking points largely haven’t adjusted to this new reality. “We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs,” said Senator Joni Ernst in the official Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union. “We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they’ll be able to leave to their children.” Clawson even said Obama’s speech was “pretty much the same rhetoric we’ve heard for the past six years,” which is simply not true.

But some Republicans are starting to realize that this message doesn’t jibe with an improved economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, opened the 114th Congress by trying to take credit for the recovery. But even if more Republicans adopt new talking points, the president and his party are generally the ones who benefit, politically, from an improving economy. Given Republicans’ doomsday predictions through the first six years of Obama’s presidency, it’s hard to imagine voters crediting the GOP for the recovery over Obama.

McConnell has largely been treated as a political mastermind during Obama’s presidency. He was one of the leaders of “no compromise” strategy that the party adopted to stifle Obama’s agenda and prevent him from claiming credit for any bipartisan accomplishments. In many ways, it was a success. Republicans won landslide victories in 2010 and 2014. They soured the country on the president and have, until now, sunk his approval ratings on many issues.

But it came at a major cost, and the cost seems to be getting greater by the day: Republicans lost all ability to shape policy, especially in the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Instead of compromising on issues like health care reform, financial regulation, and fiscal stimulus, Republicans sidelined themselves in lockstep opposition, determined not to leave fingerprints on the legislation. In turn, they adopted a message that each of Obama’s major legislative achievementsObamacare, the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law, and the stimuluswere going to crush the economy and destroy different industries. It was an appealing message when the economy was still struggling. Now it’s rapidly becoming a political liability.

That doesn’t mean McConnell’s strategy was wrong. If the GOP had compromised with Obama and pulled his policy rightward, voters almost certainly would have rewarded Democrats. The country might even be in better shape, but the Republican Party probably wouldn’t be. Ultimately, Republicans were in an impossible position. The economy was eventually going to recover, and Obama was going to get credit for it.

The president has spent the first six years of his presidency waiting for the moment he could take that credit, knowing it was coming. On Tuesday night, it came. Even with five separate responses to the president’s address, there was nothing Republicans could say to fight the growing sense that Obama’s policies are working and that the GOP has been wrong for the past six years.

 

By: Danny Vinik, The New Republic, January 20, 2015

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Economy, GOP, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bold Moves”: Obama’s State Of The Union Address Offered An Ambitious Vision To Address Income Inequality

I don’t know what President Barack Obama is eating, drinking or smoking these days but someone should give some of it to every Democrat in Congress. Since the midterm election debacle, the president has unleashed enough bold policy initiatives to choke a horse. Some progressives wonder why it took so long for the president to push a populist agenda. My take is that late is better than never.

Last night in his State of the Union speech, the chief executive proposed a version of the “Robin Hood” tax which would provide tax credits and tax cuts to struggling middle-class families at the expense of the wealthy Americans who have reaped most of the benefits of the economic recovery. Previously the president signed a presidential memorandum that would provide federal employees access to paid sick leave to care for a new child and proposed a program that would allow students to attend two years of community college, tuition free.

In addition to his initiatives to combat income inequality, the president took executive action that eased deportation for undocumented immigrants and opened the door for diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba.

But Obama’s tax proposal is a turning point in recent American political history. He has boldly gone where no Democratic president of this generation has gone before. Since the days of Ronald Reagan, Democrats have been on the defensive on tax issues. Republican presidents have proposed tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and Democrats simply reacted and tried to mitigate the damage to working families. Last night the president played offense and proposed tax credits and tax cuts that will help hard-working, middle-class families finally get a piece of the economic recovery.

This is how the president framed the issue last night. “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” Americans are concerned about income inequality. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of people said the income gap between rich and poor is a major problem.

Republicans predictably lambasted the president’s proposal. But the president’s initiative placed the burden on congressional Republicans to explain why they won’t cut taxes for middle-class families. Most congressional Democrats favor the idea of middle-class tax relief. But even some of those Democrats are not enthusiastic since they know the proposal will die a quick death on Capitol Hill. Nevertheless, Obama is looking at the big picture, which is the need to rise above the debate on the federal budget deficit and discuss taxes in terms favorable to working families and his party.

The best thing about the president’s activism is that his job rating has increased significantly while he has been laying it out on the line for the last two months. The Washington Post-ABC News poll also shows that for the first time in a long time, there are more Americans who approve (50 percent) of the president’s performance than there are who disapprove (44 percent).

Obama used his State of the Union address to create an environment for a serious national discussion of the pernicious effects of income inequality. Occupy Wall Street put the income equity problem on the table, and last night the president made it the main course. The president may have created his legacy last night.

 

By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, January 21, 2015

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Middle Class, State of the Union | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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